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Mr. ROE of Tennessee. I thank the gentleman for yielding.
First, Mr. Speaker, I want to thank Chris Smith for not just this year, but for over 30 years of advocating for life and making that one of his missions in life. CHRIS, thank you for what you have done not only for this Congress, but for our country, to make awareness. I really appreciate it. I can't thank you enough for what you have personally done and sacrificed.
Exactly 40 years ago next month, I was a young doctor in training in Memphis, Tennessee, and I was drafted in the U.S. military and left the country to go to Southeast Asia for a tour of duty there. And something happened when I was gone. Roe v. Wade passed. It really passed, and I wasn't even aware of it because I was out of the country. I came back to my training, which had been interrupted by my military service, and realized something very fundamentally different had happened to America.
As an obstetrician, I personally have delivered around 5,000 babies. In the 31 years I was in medical practice in Johnson City, Tennessee, a small town in northeast Tennessee, our group had delivered over 25,000 babies--25,000 children. I see these children now as doctors, lawyers, teachers, Sunday school teachers, soccer coaches, housewives, and farmers, you name it, bettering our community. I cannot imagine my community without these young people there. They are the future of this great Nation.
As Dr. Harris mentioned, I saw when ultrasound went from when it was just a blob that you saw to being able to visualize the heartbeat 28 days or less post-conception. It's unbelievable to be able to see that. And to see this child develop is something that I can't explain to you how fulfilling that is to be able to see that happen. And to have a ``choice'' snuff that out is a law that we have to get right in this country. Thank goodness minds are changing.
I look around this great room here, this great Chamber, and wonder what it would be like if different choices were made, the great people that I've met here in Congress that might not be here had a different choice been made. In this Chamber, we have a clear responsibility and duty for those that do not have a voice. The fourth President of our country, and the architect of the Constitution, James Madison, warned that the rights of the minority must be protected. The unborn children of America represent the greatest silent minority that there is. They are the most innocent among us and deserve the protection we afford all people in this great country.
Life is a precious miracle from God that begins at conception. As a physician, I can personally attest after visualizing literally thousands of ultrasounds. We have to make our laws consistent with science of today.
It's been mentioned before that one of our government's most important duties is to protect the most vulnerable among us, and I pledge to continue to remember and strive toward this as long as I breathe. I'm heartened that so many others today have chosen to do the same thing. And may God very much bless the 4 million women last year in this country who chose life, not a choice to terminate life.
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